A “Go with God” moment:
Several weeks ago I started making some basic observations about 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Let me summarize quickly what I talked about. First, I saw that John states forgiveness is asked, received and practiced within a community, specifically, that is the Church. Second, I pointed out that each of the main verbs in the passage; confess, forgive, and cleanse; each are in the present tense, implying that there is a continuous, ongoing connection between confession, forgiveness, and cleansing. My third and final observation comes again from the verbs, confession, forgiveness, and cleansing in Greek; they are all non-indicative verbs. Sorry to sound like a Greek-geek. Let me put it this way. These words are not to be heard in the realm of certainty but rather housed within the scope of possibility. How about this translation: “If we might confess our sins…he might forgive us our sins and he might cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” This rendering is precise; and it has much to do with the way you understand salvation to actually “work.” (That would be “efficacy” if you are in Dr. Bounds’ Theology class)
How do you explain the means by which you are actually saved? Do you see it like this: “Ok God, I’ve confessed! I’ve done my part. Now you are obligated to forgive me.” You may not sound that forceful, but is your expectation the same nonetheless? Confession in-forgiveness out. Is that the Kingdom you live in? God can not be forced to do anything; no even forgive. How do I know this?
Listen to Moses, after he has come down from Sinai and found his people worshipping a Golden Calf. “The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’” (Exodus 32:30)
Listen to the King of Nineveh in his response to Jonah’s sermon, “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? Perhaps, God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’” (Jonah 3:6-9)
Did you notice the common element in both the statements of Moses and the King of Nineveh? The powerful word, perhaps. But if salvation is not guaranteed, how will we ever know for sure? It never is a certainty with you…but forgiveness does not come exclusively out of your confession but rather forgiveness arises out of the nature and goodness of God Himself. Specifically, listen now to the text of 1 John 1:9 as the apostle unites the possibility of “confession” and the possibility of “forgiveness.” Listen to the words again, He is Faithful and Just. Your forgiveness comes from HIM and HIS FAITHFULNESS.
May I ask the question this way, do you want your forgiveness based upon the purity of your confession? On you saying just the right words? Or since the verbs in 1 John 1:9 are in the continual aspect, do you want your forgiveness to be dependent that your ability to be unceasing in the attitude of confession? Upon what will you rely with certainty your forgiveness? As for me and my house, we will trust in Jesus and His character; for He is faithful and just. It’s upon the very nature of God that I cast my confession. That is more certain than anything you could ever imagine. Never has there been a truer thought at Thanksgiving.
I cast all my care upon you.
I stand on the solid rock of You, and You alone.
There is no sinking sand in Your Presence.
I confess with a broken and contrite heart,
And I have the assurance that as you take the confession to the Father,
As my Advocate, you will speak on my behalf.
I rest solely upon Your nature and goodness.
With that, the storms of life have been vanquished.
Now, Go with God.